Raising Fears Of Lawsuits?

Your May 2 editorial fosters confusion and raises fears over the threat of lawsuits against Falmouth for not moving forward with the proposed sewer plan for the Maravista area now. There is in fact no basis or rationale for raising those fears.

The director of the state’s Division of Municipal Services in the Department of Environmental Protection has written that if, for any reason, Falmouth does not file an application for State Revolving Funds by October 2014 to construct a sewer, it can initiate the application procedure in any subsequent year when it is prepared to do so.

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Also, since the town has been moving forward in assessing the wastewater problem, preparing a CWMP, and actively conducting the demonstration projects of alternatives, it is seen as making excellent progress toward addressing the problem. In fact, Falmouth is far ahead of most other Cape Cod towns.

With regard to other Cape Cod towns, Yarmouth (September 2011 town vote) and Orleans (June 2013 Town Meeting vote) both voted down their sewer plans with no lawsuits brought against them by the state or any other entity or fines issued by the DEP as a result. They are looking for better ways to address the issues rather than the enormous financial burden of central sewer system design, engineering, construction, operation, maintenance, upgrade and repairs for current and future generations. The Cape Cod Commission, with a $3 million grant from the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust, has been charged with identifying such solutions. That evaluation will be completed later this year and should benefit all Cape Cod towns.

Your reference to lawsuits filed by the Conservation Law Foundation does not pertain to filings brought against any town or other entity for not taking action to address wastewater problems. Those lawsuits were filed against the US EPA on a technicality over the way sources of nitrogen pollution are categorized. The suits argued in part that effluent from septic systems and wastewater treatment facilities discharged via ground facilities impacting groundwater were point sources as are discharges directly to open waters. That is, septic systems should also be defined as point sources. Those suits have no applicability to the situation we are facing in Falmouth with regard to the proposed sewer project.

Janet Kluever
Currier Road
East Falmouth

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